Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images

Aside from a few canals and the seasonal influx of backpackers, there was previously little in the way of similarities between the capital of the Netherlands and Thailand’s second city Chiang Mai. But that all changed this summer, when cannabis use was decriminalized and the “capital of the north” turned into a smokers’ paradise overnight. On first glance, Chiang Mai looks like it could be the new Amsterdam.

“It’ll be the Amsterdam for East Asia,” muses Sunny of weed cafe Three Bees. Sunny, as well as others, requested only their first names be used due to fluctuating laws. “There’s a lot of South Korean and Japanese people coming, looking for really high-grade weed and the farmers are becoming very good growers here. So imagine in five years, it’ll be the best weed in Asia.” It’s not a prediction you would have made this time last year, but it feels entirely plausible now.

Regular visitors to Thailand will no doubt find this new legislation surprising; the Kingdom previously took a very strong stance on cannabis possession. If found with so much as a joint on them, tourists could expect a visit to the “Bangkok Hilton” (a nickname for Bang Kwang Central Prison, where foreigners with drug offenses were held). Cut to six months on from the new laws being introduced and the green queen is on sale everywhere, particularly in tourism hotspots like Chiang Mai.

All is not completely rosy; there’s constant backpedaling (edibles and pre-rolled joints have recently been removed from all dispensaries) as the laws are very vague and changeable. But you wouldn’t know it strolling through the night markets. Lapping a night-walking street is a vacation highlight and Chiang Mai has some of the best in the country, where heaving crowds bustle along the

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